Air Force Featured Stories

AF Assistance Fund supports Dover Airman during tragedy

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
(This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Tragedy rarely strikes on a schedule. It doesn't wait for a convenient time, often turning a person's life upside down.

Tragedy struck for Tech. Sgt. Shamika Beckley, a 436th Operations Support Squadron NCO in charge of unit intelligence, when her sister Raquel Calleja was killed by a drunk driver on Long Island, New York, three days before Christmas in 2014.

As the family member closest to New York, Beckley snapped into action to make funeral arrangements. Part of those arrangement involved travel back to her home town of San Diego, California. Beckley purchased the tickets without thinking of being reimbursed, but due to her leadership working together with personnel from the Airman & Family Readiness Center, she was able to get some of her travel costs covered.

"It was already so difficult dealing with this emotional situation," Beckley said. "To be able to lessen the financial burden was such a relief."

Beckley said it was a surprisingly simple process to go through.

"The people were so friendly and very consoling," she said. "I walked into the office and filled out a form with a short synopsis of why I needed the travel and the next day I got a check."

Jennifer Aubrey, a community readiness consultant and Air Force Aid officer at the 436th Airlift Wing Airman & Family Readiness Center, said the program used to fund Beckley's travel was the Air Force Aid Society emergency travel provision that is financed by the Air Force Assistance Fund. She said on average she sees about 12-15 similar cases during a year. Aubrey said the fund is a great benefit to Dover Air Force Base.

"It's a fund specifically for Air Force members to help other Air Force members in their time of need," Aubrey said. "It is very rewarding to help people in these situations. You know they are going through a tough time, due to no fault of their own, and you can be of some assistance."

In addition to the Air Force Aid Society, the charities supported by the Air Force Assistance Fund include:

- The Air Force Enlisted Village: Supports Teresa Village in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and the Bob Hope Village in Shalimar, Florida, near Eglin Air Force Base. The fund provides homes and financial assistance to retired enlisted members' widows and widowers who are 55 and older. It also supports Hawthorn House (in Shalimar) which provides assisted living for residents, including 24-hour nursing care.

- The Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation: Donations support independent and assisted living needs for retired officers and their spouses, widows or widowers and family members. Communities are located in San Antonio, Texas.

- The General and Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay Foundation: Provides rent and financial assistance to widows and widowers of officer and enlisted retirees in their homes and communities through financial grants of assistance.

Beckley said she felt blessed and comforted to see her Air Force family come through for her in her time of need.

"I'm grateful that I have good leadership that had my back and was looking out for me," she said. "When you are going through such an emotional time the last thing you want to be thinking of is funds."

For more information about the Air Force Assistance Fund affiliated charitable organizations visit www.afassistancefund.org.